VANDALS have attacked an inflatable sculpture in Paris's Place Vendôme within hours of it attracting world headlines for its resemblance to a sex toy.
The 24-metre-tall green object, called Tree, was unveiled in the middle of one of the city's most exclusive squares on Thursday.
On Friday night, attackers unplugged the electricity supply that was keeping the tree inflated and cut the supporting cords.
The artist behind Tree, Paul McCarthy, has decided that the structure will not be re-inflated, fearing further outbursts of violence. It was packed away on Saturday night.
Place Vendôme : L'installation de Paul McCarthy saccagée cette nuit. pic.twitter.com/MgTIvYCn18 via @Flosh— Mathieu Delahousse (@Math_Delahousse) October 18, 2014
The Paris city councillor in charge of culture, Bruno Julliard, condemned the vandalism on Twitter, describing it as "inadmissible violence".
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo added: "Art has its place in our streets and nobody can chase it away."
The tree was a temporary installation to coincide with the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC).
McCarthy was reportedly slapped in the face several times by a passer-by during the unveiling of the work on Thursday.
Explaining the work to Le Monde at the time, McCarthy said: "Originally I found that a butt plug had a form similar to the sculptures of Brâncuși.
"Then I realised that it resembled a Christmas tree. But it’s an abstract work. People can get offended if they want to see it as a plug, but for me, it’s more abstract."